Columbus, Ohio,
19:00 PM

Medical Minute: Total Solar Eclipse

There are two weeks to go until the solar eclipse is expected to draw record crowds to Ohio. The big event will culminate months of emergency planning and community collaboration to make sure area residents and visitors have access to the healthcare services they need. 

On Monday April 8, 2024, a solar eclipse will cross North America – with many Ohio counties located on or near the path of totality. 

Several of OhioHealth’s 15 hospitals are located on or near the direct path of totality. Those communities are expected to see their populations swell in the days leading up to the eclipse. It’s estimated that some communities, like Hardin County, home to OhioHealth Hardin Memorial Hospital, could see the population nearly double or even triple. 

For more than a year, hospital leaders have been meeting regularly to discuss the potential impact the influx of visitors could have on emergency departments. Measures have been taken to make sure the hospitals are prepared. Examples of those measures include stocking up on critical supplies to offset any unexpected shipping delays and adjusting staffing needs in emergency departments. 

“We’re worried about traffic gridlock,” said Michelle Wright, senior consultant, safety & environment of care for OhioHealth Marion General & Hardin Memorial Hospitals. “We’ve been planning for this for well over a year now. It’s definitely an all-hands-on deck approach.” 

Wright explained the hospital is conducting additional decontamination training, as Kenton and Marion can have rail traffic transporting potentially dangerous chemicals. 

“We’re trying to think of everything and anything that could be a possibility,” said Wright.

“Most of the time, we don’t know in advance before we’re going to have an increase in visits,” Matt Akers, director of safety, environment of care and emergency management at OhioHealth, said. “With Columbus and the big cities getting most of the resources, OhioHealth works with our rural providers to be a beacon of light in a way for these areas as far as support.”